Senate panel sidelines P.E. rule, again

A rule to set new school physical education guidelines is on hold — at least in the Senate Education Committee.

The committee held the rule Thursday afternoon, and it was not clear when it might come up again.

The guidelines would require at least 60 minutes a week of elementary school P.E., and 200 minutes biweekly in middle schools. There would be no similar requirement in high schools, and students who play in varsity or club sports would be able to receive one credit for participation.

While no one seemed to question the intent — and the importance of addressing childhood obesity — senators echoed concerns that have been raised by local school officials. They said a statewide rule would compromise local control, and place another demand on financially strapped schools.

A House Education subcommittee has already recommended dropping the elementary and middle school P.E. time requirements.

The P.E. language is part of a more comprehensive rule encompassing several academic requirements. Lawmakers can choose to approve a rule in full, reject it in full or approve it while striking down some sections of it.

Academic requirements: On Thursday, Senate Education exercised its prerogative to reject part of a rule, red-lining language that would greatly increase college requirements for English teachers.

This rule, also proposed by the State Department of Education, would require sixth- through 12th-grade teachers to take 45 upper-level English credits, up from 20.

The House education subcommittee has also recommended dropping this requirement, but the full committee still gets a vote on the matter.